After the United States Presidential elections took place in 2016, there were numerous rumours that surfaced, stating that Russian agents hijacked the democratic process and somehow managed to help Donald Trump bag the coveted chair.
Recently a report published by Special Counsel Robert S Mueller III, known as the Mueller report, blew the lid off the rumours and confirmed that there indeed was some Russian interference in the elections.
Mincing no words, the report said, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. Evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in 2016. In June, the Democratic National Committee and its cyber response team publicly announced that Russian hackers had compromised its computer network. Releases of hacked materials- hacks that public reporting soon attributed to the Russian government-began that same month. Additional releases followed in July through the organization WikiLeaks with further releases in October and November.”
Agents working on behalf of Russian military intelligence used bitcoin to do everything from purchasing VPNs to buying domains hosting political propaganda. The report says that social media portals such as Facebook and Twitter were heavily used to influence voters and the demographic.
The report further stated that there were several departments constituted by the Russians, to sway the elections. One department was dedicated to running a bitcoin mining operation which would be used to secure bitcoin and purchase computer infrastructure for hacking operations.
However, the Russians were not very good at covering up their tracks. According to news portal CCN, Russian agents from the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) tried to work outside the realm of conventional financial systems by transacting exclusively in BTC. However, Mueller’s investigating team was able to sniff them out because of their use of crypto exchanges. One of such exchanges is the notorious BTC-e, run by Alexander Vinnik.
As readers would be aware, Vinnick was cleared of all charges back in November. At the time, the operator of cryptocurrency exchange, BTC-e was arrested in Greece following charges of money laundering of $4 (some sources say $9) billion via cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e. There were reports that had suggested that the stolen bitcoin from Mt Gox (one of the largest hacks in history) were transferred to BTC-e.
Although a large portion of the details are redacted, it is not difficult to see, the extent to which the Russians went in order to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
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